The 2014 Oranje Trophy
The year 2014 was, among many much more important things, the year of the FIFA World Cup Football, or Soccer as you "Handeggball" lovers out there like to call it. Ever since the 2008 Olympics of Beijing, this means a handful of whacky Dutchmen and women paint their vehicles the Dutch national orange, get together in Amsterdam and head out for the road trip of their lives to any of the big sporting events of the world. All this organized and planned by a company called Trophy Journeys.
However, this proved a little difficult in 2014. As you might be aware there is a tiny body of water called the Atlantic between Amsterdam and Brazil so the organizers of the Oranje Trophy searched for a different place of departure. Soon a city named New Amsterdam sprung to mind, better know as New York nowadays, which meant that the 2014 trip would be quite a bit different from all the preceding Oranje Trophies. The 2010 trip to South-Africa, the 2014 trip to Poland, Ukraine, and London through the North Cape and the original 2008 Trophy to Beijing where all roughly 12.000 kilometers and took about a month. The 2014 Trophy, however, would take 3 months and traverse over 25.000 kilometers.
Including the Netherlands, it would involve 14 countries, passing 12 borders, shipping the vehicles past the Darién Gap, and crossing the Andes. For the first time, not all vehicles would make it and many needed serious mechanical assistance to get to the final destination, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
When one wishes to go somewhere these days, the first step is to open an app or web browser, type in your destination and point of departure and have the minds at Google or GPS companies work their magic to calculate a suitable route for you. When you try this from NYC to Rio the answer will be an unsatisfying: "not possible to calculate route". The main reason, besides the distance, is a little something called the Darién Gap. Basically, this is a large swamp between the south of Panama and the North-West of Colombia which is next to impossible to traverse.
Shipping your vehicle is the only viable option to cross this break in the Pan-American Highway and thus the route consists of two parts. The most direct route from NYC to Panama City is just a little over 7.200km and from Cartagena, Colombia to Rio de Janeiro it's another 7.800km, neatly adding up to 16.000km in total. For the organizers of the Oranje Trophy, this was not nearly enough so instead of driving down from NYC to the Mexican border, the first destination was San Fransisco for a real coast to coast experience. From there the route took us through the peninsula Baja California, mainland Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama before arriving at the aforementioned Darién Gap. To cross these 100 kilometers to South-America we loaded the vehicles into containers to collect them again 10 days later on Colombian soil. From there we drove on south through Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru before heading east to Brazil passing through Bolivia.
In Brazil, we headed straight to Salvador de Bahia to watch the epic opening match for the Dutch team as we defeated defending World Champions Spain in a 5-1 thriller. To finish it all off we drove down south to Rio de Janeiro for a total of 28.000 kilometers and 13 countries.